Franklin Regional robotics team takes first place at Steel City Showdown competition |

Franklin Regional robotics team takes first place at Steel City Showdown competition

Patrick Varine
FRobotics Team President Courtney Sheridan, left, celebrates her first-place finish Benjamin Marcouiller of Team 2051, center, and Kyle Berg of Team 1511 at the Steel City Showdown held Aug. 3, 2019, at Carnegie Mellon University.

Franklin Regional students on the FRobotics team brought home a first-place finish in the Steel City Showdown robotics competition, held Aug. 3 at Carnegie Mellon University.

Hosted by the Steel City Robotics Alliance, the competition included 18 teams from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and New York.

Teams build robots to perform various tasks in a skills competition, and after the early rounds, they are grouped into “alliances” with other teams, working together to succeed.

“During the qualification rounds, the team held a winning record of 6-1-1, and ended as the fourth ranked team of twenty-two,” team President Courtney Sheridan said.

Allied with teams from Hampton Township and Penfield, N.Y., the FRobotics students made it into the finals.

“We won the best-of-three finals decisively,” Sheridan said.

The win comes during a banner year for the team, as they not only were crowned champions at the WOW Robotics Alliance Championship, held in May in Ohio, but also qualified to compete at the 2019 FIRST World Championship in Detroit.

Similar to the world championships, the team’s robot — named Curiosity — was required to perform a number of simple tasks. To prepare for the Steel City Showdown, the team added a climbing mechanism and reduced the maximum height of Curiosity’s elevator, which is used to deposit items it collects during competition.

Sophomore Kalinda Wagner reprogrammed the elevator and senior Tina Henninger controlled its movement along with the climbing mechanism, while fellow senior C.J. Ciecierski maneuvered Curiosity around the arena.

During the competition, team scout and senior Daniel Kline was keeping an eye on what other teams were doing.

“Uniquely at this competition, all the teams had a chance to change their robot or their strategy (from previous competitions),” Kline said. “So I needed to look at how they changed their performance. I also looked at who we would want to most work with, since we were in a position to pick our allies.”

For the team’s marketing co-lead, sophomore Kathleen Sheridan, even being a spectator is exciting.

“We’ve been winning over and over again,” she said.

More important than winning, though, is reaching out the next generation of potential robotics students. Curiosity has one competition left before “retirement” — an October event in Columbus, Ohio — but the robot will become an ambassador for the team and the science, technology, engineering and math concepts that power it.

FRobotics members hosted several outreach events in July, including a program for children at the Murrysville Community Library.

“I think it’s really cool to expose kids to that and to be able to say, ‘This is the real-deal stuff you can do in the world,’” Courtney Sheridan said. “Kids really loved it.”

For more on the team, see

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Murrysville
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.